A daily study of the Network’s diverse faiths
Saint Michael and All Angels (Michaelmas). Western Christianity Feast Day for Saints Michael, Gabriel and Raphael the Archangels, and Lutheran Lesser Festival for St Michael, the greatest of all the angels and a princely Seraph (pl Seraphim) who holds the position once held by the fallen Lucifer (Samael, the Angel of Death). Eastern Christianity Feast Day 8 November. Angels are not earthly saints, but are the messengers from God and appear frequently in Scripture, although only Michael, Gabriel and Raphael are normally named. Michael appears in Daniel’s vision as the great prince who defends Israel against its enemies and in the Book of Revelation he leads God’s armies to final victory over the forces of evil. Devotion to Michael is the oldest angelic devotion, arising in the East in the Fourth Century and the Church in the West began to observe a feast honouring Michael and the angels in the Fifth Century. Gabriel also appears in Daniel’s visions, announcing Michael’s rôle in God’s plan. His best-known appearance is an encounter with a young Jewish girl named Mary, who consents to bear the Messiah. Raphael’s activity is confined to the Old Testament story of Tobit, guiding Tobit’s son Tobiah through a series of fantastic and successful adventures: Tobiah marrying Sarah; the healing of Tobit’s blindness; and the restoration of the family fortunes. Archangels rank above all other angels and each performs a different mission in Scripture: Michael protects; Gabriel announces; and Raphael guides. Earlier belief that inexplicable events were due to the actions of spiritual beings has given way to a scientific world view and a different sense of cause and effect but believers still experience God’s protection, communication and guidance in ways that defy description. The First Sphere of angels serve as the heavenly servants of God the Son incarnated. The Seraphim (burning ones) surround the divine throne and are the highest angelic class. The Cherubim have: four faces of a man, an ox, a lion and an eagle; four conjoined wings covered with eyes; a lion’s body; and the feet of an ox. They guard the way to the Tree of Life in the Garden of Eden and to the throne of God. Thrones (Elders) are living symbols of God’s justice and authority. Angels of the Second Sphere work as the heavenly governors of creation by subjecting matter and guiding and ruling the spirits. The Dominations (Lordships) regulate the duties of lower angels and only rarely make themselves physically known to humans but look like divinely beautiful humans with a pair of feathered wings, wielding orbs of light on the heads of their sceptres or their swords. Virtues (Strongholds) are the angels through which signs and miracles are made in the world. The Powers (Authorities) supervise the movements of the heavenly bodies and are warrior angels who oppose evil spirits and are usually represented as soldiers wearing full armour, with shields and spears. The Third Sphere of angels function as heavenly guides, protectors and messengers to human beings. Principalities (Rulers) wear a crown and carry a sceptre, and are the angels that guide and protect nations and institutions such as the Church and preside over the bands of angels, charging them with fulfilling the divine ministry. Archangels are chief angels who are first in rank and act as messengers or envoys. In most Christian traditions, Gabriel is also considered an archangel but the word archangel is singular and only specifically refers to Michael, who combats the Devil, escorts the faithful to Heaven for judgement, and champions Christians and the Church. There is a prayer to St Michael in the Rite of Exorcism in the Roman Ritual. Raphael appearing in the Book of Tobit is acknowledged in Western Rites, Eastern Orthodox Christianity and Anglicanism, but not by some Protestant denominations such as Reformed Christians or Baptists. Raphael said to Tobias that he was one of the seven who stand before the Lord and Michael and Gabriel are two of the other six. A fourth archangel is Uriel, the Light of God, who is generally not regarded as an angel by the Catholic Church and is the only one not mentioned in the Western Christian Bible, but who plays a prominent role for Anglican and Russian Orthodox Christians and the Ethiopian Orthodox, Eritrean Orthodox and Ethiopian Catholic Churches. The seven archangels mentioned in the Book of Enoch, Michael, Raphael, Gabriel, Uriel, Saraqael, Raguel, and Remiel, are said to be the guardian angels of nations and countries and are concerned with the issues and events surrounding these, including politics, military matters, commerce and trade, with Archangel Michael seen as the protector of Israel, the forerunner of the spiritual New Israel. Jerahmeel is an eighth angel of special significance in Eastern Catholicism. The malakhim are plain angels, messengers or envoys, the lowest order of celestial beings and the most recognised. They are the ones most concerned with the affairs of men, are of many different kinds with different functions, personal guardian angels coming from this class, but it is not known whether they guard multiple humans during their existence or just one each. St Michael is patron of protection, soldiers and paratroopers and against sickness. St Gabriel is patron of broadcasters and St Raphael is patron of the blind. Sts Michael, Gabriel and Raphael are patrons of: death, Germany, grocers, police officers, radiologists. Michaelmas is one of the four national Quarter Days in the UK legal calendar, along with the 25 December Christmas, Lady Day on the 25 March Feast of the Annunciation, and Midsummer Day on 24 June. Image: youtube.com.
Prayer Saint Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle. Be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the Devil. May God rebuke him, we humbly pray. Prince of the Heavenly Host, by the power of God, thrust into hell Satan and all evil spirits wandering the world to the ruin of souls. Amen
St Cyriacus (Ἅγιος Κυριακός, Heiliger Cyriakus, Hermit of Palestine) (c194-c303). Commemoration of the martyrdom of the Corinthian relative of the Bishop of Corinth who made him a church reader. Constant reading of the Holy Scriptures awakened in him a love for the Lord and of a yearning for a pure and saintly life. Cyriacus sailed to Jerusalem and visited the holy places, living in a monastery not far from Sion, making his way into the wilderness and pursuing asceticism in a monastery on the River Jordan. He easily accomplished the monastic obediences, prayed fervently, slept little, ate food only every other day and nourished himself with bread and water. At 27, he returned to a solitary cell and there he pursued asceticism in silence for over 10 years. At 37, he was ordained to the diaconate, toiled humbly at the regular monastic obediences and was later ordained priest and chosen as canonarch (lead cantor or reader), doing this obedience for eighteen years. Strict fasting and total lack of evil distinguished St Cyriacus among fellow ascetics. In his cell each night he read the Psalter, interrupting the reading only to go to church at midnight. At 70, he again went to the wilderness, with a disciple. They fed themselves only with bitter herbs, which St Cyriacus’ prayers rendered edible. Many people approached him with their needs, but he sought complete solitude in the wilderness, where he dwelt five years more. However, the sick and those afflicted by demons came to him in the wilderness and the saint healed them all with the Sign of the Cross and by anointing them with oil. At 87, he settled in a cave and rendered great help to the Church in the struggle with the spreading heresy of the Origenists, predicting the impending death of the chief heretics Nonos and Leontius and soon the heresy ceased to spread. In a dream, the Most Holy Theotokos herself commanded him to keep to the Orthodox teaching in its purity. Before his martyr’s death due to the persecution of Diocletian and at the advanced age of 109, St Cyriacus summoned the brethren to bless them, quietly falling asleep in the Lord. Venerated in Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox Churches, Oriental Orthodoxy. He is one of twenty-seven saints, most of them martyrs, who bear this name and of whom only seven are honoured by a specific mention of their names in the Roman Martyrology. Feast Day 7 June Eastern Orthodox Church, 8 August Roman Catholic Church. Patron of temptation on the deathbed, viticulture in the Electorate of the Palatinate, Saint-Cierges, Switzerland, eye disease. Image: colnect.com.
Blessed Richard Rolle de Hampole (c1300-1349). Feast Day commemorating the death of the English hermit, mystic author, religious writer and Bible translator who at the end of his life lived at the c1170 Priory of Benedictine nuns in Hampole, now in South Yorkshire. Rolle was one of the most widely read of English writers during the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Centuries and his works survive in nearly four hundred English and at least seventy Continental manuscripts, almost all written between 1390 and 1500. Rolle died on 30 September 1349 and was buried at the Priory. He inspired a flourishing cult, especially in the North of England, that was still active at the time of the English Reformation. This may have been in part due to the efforts of Margaret Kirkby, who moved to the nunnery in the early 1380s to be near the body of her master, Rolle. Margaret may have spent the last 10 years of her life there, and between 1381 and 1383 a liturgical office for Rolle, including a great deal of biographical information about him, was written as stories about him were still remembered by the older members of the community. The nuns were active in the wool trade until the Priory was dissolved during the Sixteenth Century English Reformation. Rolle is remembered in the Church of England with a commemoration on 20 January and in the Episcopal Church (USA) together with Walter Hilton and Margery Kempe on 28 September. Image: en.wikipedia.org.